The United Kingdom’s only dedicated festival for all things science fiction and fantasy, Sci-Fi-London has been variously described as the home of fantastic film, the friendliest festival in town and, memorably, ‘Where What If? meets WTF?’.
Formed in 2002 as The London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film, Sci-Fi-London’s (or SFL) mission is straightforward: to take a thoughtful, mature look at the genres in question, while simultaneously providing a showcase for new, cult and classic films from around the world in the UK’s capital city. Above all, though, the emphasis is on fun and bringing the sci-fi and fantasy communities closer together.
Now heading into its 15th year for 2015, the festival has gained an enviable international reputation as one of the best places to have a strong premiere and continues to provide a platform for stimulating and exciting work which pushes genre envelopes, either in feature-length, short, documentary or animated forms. The organisers are constantly looking for films which challenge tired sci-fi and fantasy tropes and move the genres forward, through both mainstream and independent productions.
With a packed program over eleven days at some of London’s most prestigious venues, SFL frequently hosts world and UK premieres and screens the very best in science fiction and fantastic film from countries around the globe. 2014 saw a showing of Julian Solanas’ Upside Down, starring Kirsten Dunst, while Ghost in the Machine, 28 Weeks Later and the Richard Gere starrier The Mothman Prophecies all debuted at SFL. Classics also get a dust-down at the fest, with Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and George Lucas’ dystopian nightmare THX 1138 both screening in previous years.
Sci-Fi-London is also famous for its ‘All-Nighters’, their movie marathon sessions which have been a part of the festival since its earliest days. With a carefully chosen theme or focus on a specific director or film series, these are incredibly popular events and past years have seen horror and anime get the epic overnight treatment, while the Matrix movies and tributes to John ‘Dark Star, The Thing’ Carpenter have also had runs.
As well as awards and prizes for Best Feature, Best Short and Audience Awards the fest has tons of supplementary and special events which run concurrently with the main screening program. The 48 Hour Film Challenge tasks filmmakers to come up with a sci-fi short in just two days which is then judged by a panel of industry big guns, while there are costume parades, comics expos, the Blink of an Eye shorts program, various panels, Q&As and director or actor attendances, and the famed festival pub quiz. Finally, the UK’s premier prize for science fiction literature, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, is handed out at SFL each year.
Sci-Fi-London 2015 runs from May 28 th to June 7th at various location across the capital, including the BFI Southbank and the Stratford Picturehouse.